Is Turkey bombing the wrong people?
In yet another twist to the war against ISIS, Turkish F-16 and F-4 warplanes have bombed Kurdish PKK rebel targets near the Iraqi border, as their ceasefire comes under increasing strain.
This comes as Kurdish forces have been fighting ISIS at the town of Kobane and Turkey has refused to join the fight against ISIS. Kurds are furious at Turkey’s inaction as Islamic State militants attack the Syrian border town.
The PKK is listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US and has links to Syrian Kurdish militia fighting against ISIS, the YPG.
Turkey has been reluctant to join US-led coalition against ISIS despite U.S. insistence. Yesterday the government made a surprise u-turn denying Washington the use of its air bases to attack the Islamist group.
Its main concern was linked to the possibility of Turkish and Syrian Kurds fighting together against ISIS, laying out the foundation of a future independent state.
Fighters from the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) have been aiding Kurdish YPG militia in Kobane and Turkey has refused to help supply its long-standing enemy with weapons or allow Kurdish fighters to enter Syria.
Both sides have been observing a truce and it is the first major air raid on the PKK since March 2013.
It was the first major airstrike against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militia since peace talks started two years ago, and the F-16 and F-4 jets fighter jets hit rebel targets in Diyarbakır province.
The Turkish General Staff said the Kurdish militants were involved in “assassination, armed incidents and attacks on security bases” in the wake of a nationwide wave of Kurdish unrest last week, Hurriyet newspaper reported.
The ISIS offensive on northern Syria has already caused 150,000 Syrian Kurds to flee to Turkey, heaping pressure on the Nato member to intervene, amid fears that Kobane’s fall might result in the massacre of civilians.
The standoff over Kobane has also endangered and could ultimately destroy a fragile two-year-old peace process with the PKK. That began as an initiative of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to end a 30-year-old insurgency by militants who are demanding greater autonomy and Kurdish rights.
Last week, the jailed leader of the PKK Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life sentence on the Imrali prison island, said in a statement that the peace process with Turkey will be over if ISIS takes over Kobane.